It has been a dream to show off Durban and KwaZulu-Natal to the world.
Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal – Anglo Zulu, Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana and Blood River
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve, Cat Rehabilitation and St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Budget Package
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve, Cat Rehabilitation and St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Standard Package
uKhlahlamba Drakensberg Hiking and Sightseeing Tour
Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal – Anglo Zulu, Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana and Blood River
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve, Cat Rehabilitation and St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Budget Package
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve, Cat Rehabilitation and St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Standard Package
uKhlahlamba Drakensberg Hiking and Sightseeing Tour
During this time in South Africa of great political instability it has been made clear that land expropriation without compensation will be officially a part of our constitution.
This now leaves us with the total confusion (in my eyes) as to who actually the land should be given back to.
As a white South African, with my parents having been requested to move to South Africa in the 1970’s to help with Civil Engineering training of our people to create employment, where do I stand?
Will it boil down to the simple fact that my skin is “white” that will determine if my land(that was paid for by my hard work) will be taken and will I be told to go back to where I came from? (Where did I come from?) Being born in South Africa and living almost my entire life here I feel South African.(I have no ties with Europe)
We began our Hluhluwe day safari bright and early as you would when going on an African safari tour! It was a lovely day as it had rained the night before so it was a little cooler today so we could enjoy the safari away from the extreme summer heat!
On route to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve I covered some of the interesting history of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa as well as the population groups and how they came to be here. It also ended up with some politics which you really should never discuss with your clients but if they are happy with hearing your opinion then it is fine.
After collecting my clients who were returning to South Africa from Monaco to visit family for the festive season, we headed off to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve where we conduct most of our Durban Safari Tours.
We chatted about the history of Durban and South African before arriving at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and beginning our Durban Safari to see what animals we could find.
The first day of our Durban Safari turned out to be good as we began with lots on Impala and some Buffalo.
Our Durban safari tour began in Durban city where I collected my clients for their safari experience with Tim Brown Tours. We headed up to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve on route stopping at a Cat rehabilitation center for interaction with Cheetah, Serval, Caracal and African Wild cat hands on!
There is no point in coming to Africa and not experiencing an African safari! South Africa is as good a place to begin with a safari as we are home to the oldest game reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve established in 1895.
On route to this majestic national park home to the Big 5, I always cover this history of South Africa as it ties so well into our Safari experience.
We began our South African safari near Durban where I collected my client who were out for a Baptist conference here in Durban, South Africa!
As it was a slightly larger group than I usually take on Safaris from Durban I rented a 13 seat vehicle and trailer.
Once we got all the luggage in we headed off to Hluhluwe Imfolozi and Hilltop camp for our 3 nights there and to enjoy nature at its best.
On route I covered as much history of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa as possible over the microphone and in no time it seemed we had arrived at the gate into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, my second home.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve as a deep history which you can read about on the link over the words Hluhluwe….
It is well known for having saved Rhino from extincting in the 1940’s and 50’s.
On route to Hilltop camp we spotted one of these amazing Rhinos the White Rhino before having the most amazing Black Rhino sight I have had in a long time. This male Black Rhino walked down a slope and crossed the road in front of us and was super relaxed for a Black Rhino. I was amazed and we were all super happy.
What a special moment! We then arrived at Hilltop camp and checked in getting clients and luggage to the rooms which did take a little but of time as it was dark.
We then met for dinner before a good nights sleep.
Day two began at 06:30 am and we made our way into the northern section of Hluhluwe game reserve. We had luck right off the bat as we found Elephants near to the road and all down in the valley and up on the hills near the camp.
We also had some amazing luck with Rhino as we got one posing very nicely for us all during our South African safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
We were trying our best for the African wild dogs but hear they had made there way over the river after feeding on an Nyala and taken their puppies with them. So we continued and up the road found a huge herd of Buffalo in fact we must has seen about 6 herds of Buffalo….
I love the above Buffalo picture even though it is not sharp it has character with the flies and the dust. We also managed to spot some Zebra on our South African safari which was great as the sunlight really hit them nicely.
The one Zebra looks like she is laughing at us… As we continues our 4 day safari tour in Hluhluwe we also found Giraffe but they were far away and I knew we would get them later. So we continued back to camp for breakfast before heading out to the Cat rehabilitation center.
The Cat rehabilitation center was amazing and my clients loved it as they got to interact with Cheetah hands on and Serval.
The next picture was of the Cheetah cub which is 3-4 months old and the clients got to play with him, he is very cute and playful. Wow what a South African safari this was turning out to be from Durban!
We then made our way back to the gate and just stopped for some food and fuel. We then got back to camp as some of the group we doing the evening open vehicle safari and other we coming with me.
Those that came with me were treated to a few things, the first was a Southern Tree Agama.
We also found some Vultures in a tree among the usual things like the Elephants, Rhino, Buffalo, Zebra and even a Wildebeest.
We then had great fortune and found the Giraffe we had been looking for near to the road so it was great for photos excepting the light was beginning to fade. Either way it was fantastic and our success continued during our Safari from Durban in South Africa.
We tried one more time for cats and dogs with no luck, but we had an amazing sighting for a rare specie the Bush Pig which you usually only see at night. It was now dusk and the video I made came out decently but not very well.
We still had one more shot of the day and it was of the sun going down and the planets Venus and Jupiter! The night sky had cleared from the previous night was was looking great with so many stars out.
We had a great day on safari from Durban.
It was now time to wait for the others to get back and at 8pm we all had a great dinner. The food at Hilltop camp is always lovely. We were all very tired and headed off to bed as we would meet the next day fairly early at 7am for breakfast.
We began the day in the hope of finding cats but sadly we battled for them through the day!
This did not bother us much as we found many other species of animals from Elephant to Mongooses.
We were wanting to see more Giraffe on this African Safari and we did.
My clients were very happy with the Giraffe and after a short while we spotted a bull Elephant which crossed the road in front of us and fed next to the road to I made a video of this.
We slowly made our way down to the Umfolozi river and before we got there we spotted a Rhino bull which decided to sit down and then have a rest by lying down.
It was an amazing sighting as I managed to shoot the sequence of events.
After the Rhino went to sleep we made our way over the Umfolozi river which was in full force after the heavy rain we had had a couple days before! It was great to see this river flowing so well during our Durban safari in South Africa.
We continued and tried to get as far south as we could but time was also running out as I was unable to travel very fast in the 13 seat vehicle.
Things were quiet and we decided to stop at Bhejane hide hide and see what animals would come to us but sadly it was only birds.
We did however see Terrapins on the bank of the watering hole.
Once of the best sighting at the watering hole was this African Hoopoe which was searching for food and maybe had a nest in this dead tree next to the watering hole.
We the made our way to the Centenary center for some lunch and then had a look around the curio shop. As we were a group of 12 it took longer than we thought and we needed to rush back to Hilltop camp to get back for the clients who were doing the evening open vehicle safari and to load up most of the luggage into the trailer, Thank you Jason for your help!
We arrived back and sorted everything out before meeting for dinner. We had to wait for the 4 clients that went on the open vehicle game drive but it was a good wait.
As we stood at the bar we noticed that Prince Harry was in the restaurant enjoying dinner we could not believe our luck to see such a character. We waited on the others and told them but did not want to bother the young prince as others were doing and we sat to enjoy our meal having had a great day.
We began our forth day with a very early start at 05:45 and left Hilltop camp by 6am for St Lucia or Isimangaliso Wetland park for our 2 hour boat cruise viewing Hippos and crocodiles.
We arrived 10 minuted early and had a great 2 hour on the boat seeing lots of Hippos, Crocodiles, Mangroves and birds.
We had unbelievable sightings of Hippos both in the water and on land during our African safari from Durban.
St Lucia estuary is the largest esturine system in Southern Africa and home to 4 of the Big 5 the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.
We were lucky to catch these two baby Hippos playing in the estuary while we were on the boat tour of St Lucia we also had amazing Bird sightings of Pink Backed Pelicans, African Fish Eagles to Black winged stilts.
As the boat cruise drew to an end we had one more sighting and that was of a Bull Shark swimming in the St Lucia Estuary! They have been stuck here since 2007 when the estuary closed naturally to the ocean due to a lack of rainfall.
We finished up our cruise and began our way back to Durban International or King Shaka International airport stopping along the way for some food and coffee.
We arrived on time for the clients that would be catching there flights out of Durban and I took two of the clients after the safari to the Hilton Hotel in Durban. It had been an amazing tour having just missed out on the cats!
We all enjoyed it and would have many memories to take back home with us.
I met my clients in Durban at the Blue waters hotel which overlooks the ocean of the Durban beach front. Once we got the luggage in the car we began our 2.5 hour drive to the cat rehabilitation center in Hluhluwe for our interaction with 4 species of Cat; Cheetah, Serval, Caracal and African wild cat.
Before we got their though we covered the history of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa as it sets up the Durban overnight safari nicely with some back ground of the area.
This 2 day safari from Durban is really exciting as it is really rushed but you will not feel it as everything is so well arranged and tuned that as the client it is still very enjoyable. I always recommend the 3 day safari tour but if you have limited time the 2 day safari tour can be equally as good if luck is on your side.
We were lucky as everything we our way from the traffic to the timing of animals and really it was a spectacular 2 day or safari that even I will not forget for a long time!
At the cat rehabilitation center we had a great tour and the best times were with the Cheetah adults and cubs as well as the Serval one which took a liking to my boots. This is the 3rd time she has done this where is dribbles saliva on my boot and then rubs it with her chin. It is very cute and always part of our overnight safaris from Durban.
After learning more about the amazing Cheetah we began the interaction and my clients enjoyed this as well and the best part was the interaction with the young cubs which are about 8 months old and very excitable. Once of them got hold of some one jacket and would not let go until I brought across her blanket…
Next we moved to the Serval and the interaction with them as also amazing and as I mentioned the boot incident took place! These tours around the cat rehab are always amazing I mean really! where in the world can you do things like this.
After the amazing tour at the cat rehabilitation center it was time to head onward to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, Africa’s oldest proclaimed protected area.
We got there in 20 minutes and checked in at the gate before heading into the Hluhluwe section for our Safari. Our first sighting was 2 minutes from the gate and it was of a journey of Giraffe.
We also spotted Warthogs, Impala, Nyala and sleeping Rhino before I bumped into a mate of mine and he told me their was an Elephant Bull down by the river. So we headed down there and it was a good thing was did as he was drinking and we had him all to ourselves! At the same spot we saw some Vervet monkeys running around.
Before we could get to the camp we actually spotted Baboons on the road and it was great to see them with babies enjoying themselves.
We then headed off to Hilltop camp on route spotting a large herd of Buffalo on a hill. When we arrived at Hilltop camp we enjoyed the lovely view and some lunch before checking and and heading to the room for a few minutes. It was then time to head out for a couple more hours before one of my clients would be doing the open vehicle safari with the lodge.
This afternoon drive was one I would remember and my clients would cherish for a very long time to come!
We headed out and I nearly went a different direction but due to the limited time I felt we would not get to where I wanted to go and return in time for the game drive.
I was really glad I made that choice.
We had a very exciting start as we got on to one of the dirt road and went around a few bends we spotted 3 Lions walking next to the road. We were so shocked as it was only 4 pm and Lions are not usually active at this time that we could not get the word Lion out our mouths.
I got a couple of pictures before they moved into the bushes but they were not great and you will see why I didn’t bother putting them up.
Next I got a message from another guide friend that Lions we fighting and chasing Buffalo at one of the dams. I raced there but as you can imagine we began to see animals.
We spotted Rhino near to the road and had to stop for a photo.
As we continued we then came across a huge herd of Buffalo and one old male crossed in front of us so again we had to stop to watch them.
We finally got there and I was disappointed to see nothing there any more except the Buffalo. This sadness did not last long as we then spotted the Lions walking towards the road. The problem was we wanted to photograph the one young male we say laying on a sand bank so we paused for this.
We moved on quickly to get into position for the Lions as the crossed the road, we had already missed two or 3 cross over but I got a short video of the young male crossing and a photo of the Big male Lion.
This had truly been an amazing day and we headed back to the lodge with the biggest smiles you could imagine and feeling really content. I had to tell my clients that in 10 years of guiding I don’t think I have seen 2 prides of Lions in such a short space of time and both either on or that close to the road. It was a special overnight safari from Durban.
We got back an Lyn went on the evening game drive, I got down to some paper work and admin and Lee watch a football match.
We all met again at 8pm for dinner and chatted about the amazing first day of safari we had. My clients had already been to the the Lion park outside Joburg and a national park up there but this safari took the cake!
It was then off to bed and up for a 7am breakfast and check out.
We met for breakfast which was lovely and then we headed out onto the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, it was then that our day really began. Oh I forgot about the Baboons outside the window at breakfast.
It was not long before we got what we were hoping for a Giraffe near to the road. In fact he was on the road and was walking down it.
We continued with our Durban overnight safari and came across some Banded Mongooses and some Vervet monkeys. Unfortunately the Mongooses all ran away but we were left with some lovely monkeys.
We then made our way into an open area where we spotted a huge herd of Buffalo right next to the road at a mud wallow. It was a great sight to see them watching us just as much as we were watching them.
We then took a toilet break with a view and once we got to looking at the view we spotted 3 of the Big 5, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo. We also saw Giraffe and Zebra from this hill, its amazing what patience can do!
We continued our overnight safari from Durban and made our way down south hoping to get to the Umfolozi river. On route we spotted some Kudu which was a new one for us and they crossed the road in front of us.
Next we had an amazing sighting of Elephants fighting, more like a dominance display which was very interesting to watch and not only for us but for a couple other Elephants which walking into the area.
We watched these Elephants for a good while and then we realised we no longer had time to make it to the river which was also fine so we made our way out of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and onward to St Lucia – Isimangeliso wetland park.
The drive was really nice as we chatted about how amazing the overnight safari from Durban had been but we still had a lot to see and do.
We arrived at St Lucia and had some lunch before our 1pm boat cruise on the St Lucia Estuary. Then we boarded the boat and enjoyed what turned out to be a lovely afternoon watching Hippos play fighting and wallowing around as well as some Crocodiles.
This was an amazing time and I didn’t take just one video I took 3 videos that were good enough to go up on this blog post for my clients and their friends.
This Crocodile was amazing as he was just sunning himself on the shoreline not far from our boat at all. Next was some amazing big pods of Hippos and the best after the playing in the water was them out of the water!
This was the final part of our Durban overnight safari tour and the whole way back to Durban we could not believe the luck we had had as well as just the amazing sighting of nature on our safari in Africa!
I met my clients in Durban for their 3 day safari tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park in South Africa. It is the oldest preserve in Africa and home to the Big 5 the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Obviously we were here for ecotourism as Hunting is not an option in a National park like Hluhluwe Imfolozi.
We began at the Cat rehabilitation center in Hluhluwe and enjoyed the experience of interacting with some of the Cats including African wild cat, Serval and Cheetah adults and cubs. The Caracal we do not touch as they are together for mating which can make them potentially more aggressive.
I was lucky enough to have done some back to back Durban safari tours so I was feeling the way the Cheetah in the picture was looking.
My clients also got to interact with the Cheetah hands on which is always an amazing experience and they enjoyed it just as much as every other client I have take has. This is a must in you are in the area and wish to do a Durban safari tour be it and overnight safari tour or just a day safari tour.
Next it was time to head into the World famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for our safari tour from Durban. It wasn’t long before we spotted some animals and they were the Buffalo, Zebra and Impala oh and Warthogs.
The Buffalo were a bit for off so I didn’t photograph them but the Zebra really posed for us and this made for a great start to our Safari from Durban.
After the dazzle of Zebra we continued and spotted a Black Rhino which was really lucky. The only problem was that he kept going behind the bushes and was already so far away that the picture was really bad. A black Rhino is rare so I decided to put the picture up anyway.
We then made our way to the camp where we settled in for lunch and checked in. Again I heard from my clients that they had seen all the complaints about Hilltop camp and the roads but they were surprised that it was nothing like what some of the reviews say.
After checking in we had a short rest before heading back out to see what animals we could find. It started really quiet and then I got word of Lions in the area we were heading into. As always when you are trying to get somewhere you end up seeing so many things which hinders your progress! It was still good as we got this calf Rhino with his mother near to the road.
We also found Nyala and Buffalo but we continued and there they were, a pride of Lions in the distance sitting in the dried up Hluhluwe river. At first it was a far sighting then we found another spot where we could see them a little better. The photos were not great but it was good enough and very special to see a couple of the Lions sitting on a rock. We also had a Rhino come and drink while we were watching the Lions.
We then returned to the view sight where we had a look at the view. Down in the river bed was 4 Rhinos having a little go at each other so my clients watched this through the binoculars and I took a couple photos for them.
It had been a good day. When you see Lions on the first day it helps and makes things easier for the rest of the tour. We continued back up to the camp for some dinner and on route spotted a crash of 6 Rhino. It was a lovely sighting and this really capped off the day for us on safari in Africa.
We began day two at 6am when the gates opened and were hoping to find Elephants and Giraffe. It was strange as we saw lots of evidence that they were around but did not find them near to the road.
As we then continued we heard that the African Wild dogs were in the area but there was no sign of them so after waiting around for 20 minute I decided to take a dirt road perpendicular to where we were and we found the wild dogs. It was awesome as one crossed the road in front of us before joining the rest all with full bellies.
After enjoying the African wild dogs we continued and found Rhino in the distance as well as Zebra close to the vehicle. We had lots of Nyala sightings that we just gave up stopping unless it was a clear shot. It had been a quiet morning safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve but we had seen the most endangered carnivore in Africa so we were not unhappy at all.
We were getting closer to Hilltop camp where we would be having our breakfast and we finally spotted a giraffe male near to the road. He was great posing for us and walking next to us. They are such amazing creatures full of character.
Once we returned we enjoyed the breakfast and took some time out from the Safari and rested until after lunch when we headed back out again to see what we could find. We actually we desperate for Elephant but nature has a strange was of leveling you and showing you that even though we are the most successful animal we still cannot have everything our way. This is still a good thing.
We however found another male Giraffe which looks like he could have been the same male from in the morning as well as Rhino in the distance.
As we continued we spotted a whole troop of Baboon and some Nyala males having a joust with one another. The Baboons we really great and one mother had a tiny baby with her as she sat in the tree watching us. Our safari from Durban in South Africa was really great and its moments like these you remember how great they are!
I was feeling a little frustrated that we still hadn’t found Elephants but it was just one of those things, life is all about timing and we had seen such amazing other animals we could not really be sad.
We still tried, and then we saw Buffalo below Hilltop camp.
After this it began to rain heavier and we still tried for another 35 minuted for Elephant with no luck. We did however enjoy a spectacular rainbow which was not only going a full semi circle but was a double rainbow. It was so beautiful we could not even capture the beauty in a picture but we tried. Our safari was coming to an end and we spotted a Baboon on the road outside Hilltop camp. The best part was that he walked right next to us and was inline with the rainbow. People always say there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but this was a Baboon at the end of our Rainbow!
We got back to camp and then I got the client onto the open vehicle safari that would hopefully find then Elephant but if not I would have to in the last hour and a half we would have the following day.
I went off to do the blog post I writing now and we would meet the next day for breakfast and check out.
Day 3 of our Safari from Durban began with luggage collection and then a great breakfast before the final pressure took shape realizing that in the 2 days prior we had not seen Elephant. This was not normal for me so my blood pressure was so high I had a headache.
I rushed off to try and maximize the 1.5 hours we had left to find an Elephant or 3 and thankfully the Elephant Gods looked down on us favorably and we found a Bull Elephant right next to the road it was great as he was relaxed and feeding away!
We then had this great sighting of a Big bull Elephant coming down the tar road towards us. He looked angry but it was just the angle of the road which gave him the loping walk down towards us. At first I couldn’t tell as I was holding the camera trying to get the video for the clients.
At this point the adrenaline was pumping and we were shaking with excitement as we were only 5 minutes from the gate and having to leave the game reserve. We had such great sighting in the last 1.5 hours of our Durban safari that we could not believe it. We even spotted this male Rhino with and Impala in front of him.
We then were pumped up and seconds later a we saw a mother Rhino near the road and I figured she and her calf would cross the road in front of us so I waited and bang! That is what the did and at some rate of knots!
It was not time to exit and make our way to St Lucia Isimangeliso Wetland park which is South Africa’s first world heritage site and has great biodiversity and we had great sightings!
We boarded a 10 am, 2 hour Hippos and Crocodile boat tour in inside 5 minutes we had seen both!
These two crocodile were actually laying on top of one another but my picture was really out of focus so I have to settle for this one after the one Crocodile moved to the water.
Next it was pod upon pod of Hippos that we saw, one of the best being a large group up stream.
We had a lot more sightings including a Giant Kingfisher catching a fish, a Saddle Billed Stork as well as a Goliath Heron. The best was yet to come as on our sail back to the jetty I spotted a Shark not one but 2 shark fins, we stopped and watched and saw them swimming around a bit. They could have been mating or hunting fish together. I was so excited I got the picture and even a video. Please excuse the South Africans making all the noise in the back ground!
My work was done and we returned to St Lucia town for some lunch and then headed back to the Airport where my clients would be heading back home. It has turned out to be a great Durban overnight safari with us having seen 45 of the Big 5 and Wild Dogs in Hluhluwe Imfolozi oh and Black Rhino. At St Lucia the special was the Zambezi sharks the first time I have successfully filmed them in the St Lucia estuary.
Africa’s oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe Imfolozi was established in 1895 after the South African government and a couple of influential conservationists realised that the continuous hunting of wildlife was causing them to run out of raw materials like Ivory (Elephant tusk) for the trading between Europe, Africa and Asia. Its is am ideal game reserve to visit for a Safari while in Durban as it is a Big 5 game reserve, Malaria free and near Durban.
Why did they over hunt this area? Actually it was more the fact that there was an issue with Tsetse flies which was believed to be caused by the animals. The Tsetse fly caused Sleeping sickness or “Nagana” which affected the Blood of animals and Humans causing fever, loss in weight, weakness, Anemia and potentially death.
This was so feared by the Settlers that they killed vast numbers of game(animals) literally 100 000′s in order to get rid of this disease.
It was only in the 1940′s that DDT (an agricultural toxin) was used by being sprayed over the vast area of Hluhluwe Imfolozi’s 96 000 Hectare reserve. This not only killed off the Tsetse fly but also the Anopheles mosquito which carried Malaria(female only). This meant that today we are very lucky to take our clients on Safaris near Durban and not have any issues with Malaria!
We are blessed in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve to have a Pride of Lions which has a strange ability to climb trees. This is not usual in Lions as Lions do not have a locking mechanism in their wrists to come down from a tree in a graceful manner. They are also big animals and to see them taking to the trees is amazing. On our Safaris from Durban you may get lucky enough to see this spectacle.
There is a couple reasons this pride of Lions would have turned to climbing trees and the most common reason would be that the area that they hold a territory in is too very thick and it makes it easier for them to see there prey item by being up high. Having said all of this the Big Lions do not take to the tree so this is something that the Lionesses and the young Lions are doing. As they get bigger the risk of falling when they come down the tree and breaking there necks is higher.
Behaviour like this of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi tree climbing Lions has also been reported in east Africa but as mentioned is very uncommon due to the risks of coming down. These cats are like our domestic cats happy to go up but to come down is a slippy affair!
Just to see these amazing creature even on the ground on one of our Durban safari tour is amazing but when they are seen up in the tree it is even more amazing and special for us.
With in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve there is some amazing scars which can be seen on either Wilderness Trails or from the air. The reason behind these great scars at the confluence of the Black and White Umfolozi rivers is due to the greatest Zulu King, Shaka!
King Shaka reigned supreme of the vast area of Zululand between 1816 and 1828 defeating and taking over smaller Black African Tribes. He became known by the tribes as “the Hyena man” and the Cape Colonist called him the “Black Napoleon”.
Shaka instructed his “Impis”(Worriers/Soldiers) to construct these great pits which were used to chase vast numbers on animals into once a year. The young Impis would then spear the animals killing them as a sign of there courage. It appears that there could have been more to this non-selective killing of animals. Shaka being as great as he was would never want anyone to be a stronger King than he was or to defeat him. It seems that he could have used his hunting pits to prevent there being much food for intruders who entered the area wishing to dethrone the great Shaka!
Throughout Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve there are signs of Stone age activities with Artifacts being found over they years. It was also an area where early metal work took place and on the Western side of Masinda lodge with in the game reserve we are told Iron Ore was found and formed into spears and Assagais by the Zulus.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve is home to the Big 5 – Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant. Apart from these amazing creatures, Hluhluwe Imfolozi has Hippos, Giraffe, Zebra, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and a vast number of Antelope Species.
This is not all that you can expect to see in this amazing nature reserve. With around 380 species of birds, Mountainous areas, Open areas and views to die for you will never get bored if you are guided through this amazing reserve.
The Hluhluwe Section of the game reserve is vastly different to the Umfolozi section. Hluhluwe is more scenic with more rolling hills and forests. It contains Savanna and some grasslands but more so mountainous with great views over the Valleys.
Hluhluwe is an ideal spot to look for Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard as well as stunning bird life.
The Umfolozi sections of the game reserve is a mixture of Acacia thorn veld and grasslands. We come across many Tamboti thickets and riverine forests which can also make this a good spot to look for Leopard, Lion, Cheetah and African Wild Dog.
Overall between the two sections of reserve we have the chance of seeing the Big 5 and all the other animals mentioned during your Durban Safari Tour.
During the early years of the game reserves establishment from 1895 there was still a vast amount of hunting that took place. With the years of punishment to Rhino populations and other species this was getting out of hand and a program was put into place in the 1850′s to bring back the Black and White Rhino populations from the brink of extinction.
It was this program which also meant bringing in new genetics from other areas to prevent in breeding that really was a huge success. Today in the 21st century the White Rhino population in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve is the highest density of any reserve in the world.
This is a true feather in the cap for KwaZulu-Natal National parks(Ezimvelo KZN Wildlife).
There are two major camps/lodges within Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve on one of which is fenced and has catering, this is Hilltop camp.
All the other camps/lodges are self catering facilities and the Bush camps require a Guide to be with you during your stay, for your safety due to no fencing and human nature to explore.
Hilltop camp is my lodge of choice, being a 3 star facility with Wifi, TV, Shop, Bar and restaurant all set in the forest on the highest point in the game reserve. This of course means great views day and night(of the Stars).
Below are a few picture of Hilltop camp.
We began our Durban day safari tour in Durban city where I had two pick ups and then moved to Umhlanga for another two pick ups. This was the most number of pick ups I think I have done before and it went very smoothly.
It was nice to have a mix of clients from Irish and British to Belgium/Dutch.
We began the long journey but as always with me chatting about the history of Durban and KwaZulu Natal, I always find it goes quickly and I am sure the clients that are interested in it feel the same way.
The word “safari” come from east Africa and is Swahili for “Journey” so basically all my Durban Tours are Durban safari tours!
Our Durban day safari tour continued as we headed up the North Eastern coastline and we stopped once to stretch the legs and grab a coffee before the final hour and 15 minutes to Memorial gate in the North eastern corner of the world famous and Africa’s oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe Imfolozi.
I chose to enter in the North as the Umfolozi section can be very quiet at times and if their are no cats around it can be difficult at time to make a good day of it. Having already been in touch with some other guides from the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, I decided to go North.
It was a good choice for us as we nailed 4 out of the Big 5 again and got to see a Lioness! I was so happy to be able to share this with my clients, it is always a privilege.
We had many sightings very close to the gate when we entered from African Buffalo, Impala, Rhino and Zebra.
Durban day safari tour; Rhino
These Rhinos were worth a photo as the two standing were sub adults and just wondered up to the fella that was resting to say hello. It is always amazing on our Durban day safari tours to watch the behavior of these wild animals as you can learn so much about how they think. It was seconds later that we spotted some Zebra so I managed to take a decent photo of them too.
Zebra are also such amazing creature being the only animal the kicks and bites at both each other and at predators. Their are so many Zebra in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve which have gashes and scars from being attacked by Lions and surviving! Can you believe it!
Our Durban day safari tour continued and we made our way towards a dried up mud wallow to search for some Giraffe but before we got there we found a herd of Elephant. Trouble was they were not to close to the road but patients pays off, and we finally go a good photo.
After watching these Elephants feeding and resting in the shade in the Hluhluwe section of the game reserve we moved on to find these Giraffe. It wasn’t long and we had them in our sight and we spend some time enjoying the as they fed and resting in the shade on the trees on what was already a hot day at 36 degrees.
Our Durban day safari tour then led us to the river as every where was so dry that we needed to try the rivers to find more animals, not that we hadn’t done well already with 3 of the Big 5!
We made our way to the Hluhluwe river and it was here that we spotted a huge herd of African Buffalo in the mud and 2 Elephants feeding on the reeds.
Mud wallowing is important to cool down but also to remove external parasites from the body, must say I only tried it a couple time when I was knee high to a grass hopper and when I was doing my training 10 years ago!
At this point we were feeling the heat but having chatted to a buddy of mine we got wind of Lions in the area so we raced off to go and see if we would be lucky enough to get to see them. It is not common to see Lions in the day time and if you are lucky to see them they tend to be in thick areas which mean a bad sighting. So I was a little optimistic about it.
We arrived in a haze of dust and as the dust settled we saw a Lioness on her back with here feet in the air. It was awesome to see her on a Durban day safari tour.
We spent some time watching her as we want her to show herself a bit more so after a few minutes she rolled over and gave us a lovely stare showing here scars from fights over the years. Now we had seen 4 of the Big 5 inside 2 hours on our Durban day safari tour and things couldn’t have been better!
We now made our way to the river again to another section to see if we could find anything new. On route we came across the Anti Poaching team and we requested to take their photo. They do such an amazing job in protecting our Rhinos from poachers and risk their lives for nature in South Africa.
We got to the river and stopped for a toilet break and I thought of all the amazing animals we had seen so far on this Durban day safari tour, we had been truly blessed with good luck and correct information and my gut feeling of going north had paid off for my clients. I was very happy.
After we left the river we followed its twists an turns and spotted a herd of Elephant and Buffalo down at the river but the picture was not clear so I left it out. We also spotted Nyala and more Rhino, Giraffe and a great sighting of Zebra very near to the road.
At this point lunch at Hilltop camp was calling our names and we made our way their for some food. The views there are amazing and having a rest was pleasant for all of us. My clients enjoyed some Beer and wine and eventually some food before we had a quick look at the curio shop and then departed Hilltop camp to see what other animals we could find on what had turned out to be a great Durban day safari tour.
Things after lunch in the heat of the day were a little quiet but we spotted some Nyala near the road so I got their picture to add to the already large collection.
We continued our Durban day safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and came across an amazing crash or 6 Rhinos just next to the road in the open looking at us like we were stupid. They were amazing and we got to enjoy them as the rested in the shade and rubbed there horns on a tree stump. The best picture I got was this one with 4 of their heads in a row! It was incredible! Rhinos being on the brink of becoming extinct this sighting of 6 together was very special for us all.
What an amazing Durban day safari tour, I don’t think we could have wished for more even though I agreed if we spotted a leopard I would buy everyone lunch. Unfortunately that didn’t happen so I didn’t get the pleasure of buying lunch for everyone!
We headed now toward the gate as it was getting closer to 15:30. We then spotted some Baboons down in the Umfolozi section up in a tree and as we exited the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve we got them all over the road which was amazing. It was almost 4pm by the time we left and the Baboons just added that cherry on the top to the Durban day safari tour as I know some of my clients really wanted to see monkeys.
An amazing Durban day safari tour with my group had come to an end and we cracked on to Durban to drop off the clients for their night out ( I am Sure) of celebrating the Tour they had just been on.
We arrived around 7pm and we all had smiles as we had seen so much, 4 of the Big 5 and so many other amazing animals, even the Anti poachers were great to see.
Thank you to all my clients for joining me on this Durban day safari tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, Africa’s oldest proclaimed national park and home to the Big 5 animals, The Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino!
We began our 5 Day Durban tour in Umhlanga and made our way to Eshowe where the Fort Nongqayi is positioned. The Nongqayi were the Zululand police for the British and were based at the fort in 1883 when it was built.
It was also in this area of Eshowe that the Norwegian missionaries assisted the great king of the Zulu Nation, King Mpande who was estimated to weigh in at 250 KG’s. He was so big that he became ill and Rev. Shroeder built this wheel chair for the king.
The history in this area continues as near by in Empangeni in 1893 the first Zulu Priest was ordained Ndlela.
This next image is of a monument inscription wishing peace, blessings and unity over our beautiful country and memory of those that fought and died in the 1879 war of Isandlwana, the 1906 Mbambatha rebellion and 1883 Zulu force at Fort Nongqayi.
We then finished up at Eshowe and moved on to Shakaland where we had some lunch and a rest before beginning our tour of Shakaland. We first watched a short 10 minute clip of the movie Shaka Zulu filmed in 1984. We then moved on to the Isivivane where if a Zulu warrior was killed his body would be covered in stones as people passed in respect for the dead.
At this point we moved up into the Zulu Cultural village at Shakaland and watched the Zulu Beer being brewed before tasting it.
We also saw a short demonstration on how King Shaka’s tactics changed the history of the Zulu nation.
It was time for a rest before the 6pm Marimba playing at the bar and then the 18:30 Zulu dancing and singing which was spectacular.
After the Zulu dancing we made our way through for dinner and waited for the chief to taste the food to make sure it was safe to eat and then we all tucked in to the great meal.
We had some good conversation and then we headed off to bed for a well deserved rest.
We began our day at 8am with some breakfast before we watched the Zulu ladies being “shela(ed)” down by the river. This is basically where the young men meet the girls and try to get them to love them.
As we left them and moved up into the Zulu village we began with a demonstration of Zulu stick fighting which of course I had to get involved in!
Next was the Zulu spear throwing also one of the things that I need to improve on but at least I give it a go and see what I can do. It was great fun and some of us had a go. David one of my clients used to be a javelin thrower and he did a great job!
Next we watched how the Spears were made and got a demonstration on the use of all the traditional Zulu weapons. We then moved on to the Sangoma and Inyangas hut. It is important to understand that a Sangoma is a fortune teller and not a witch doctor as many people say, an Inyanga in a medicine man like a western doctor but used natural products for his medicine.
It was now time to head into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve to make our way to Hilltop camp for lunch and check in. We saw very few animals; this was fine as we had 3 nights here.
We arrived had lunch, checking in and had a 45 minute rest before departing for Emdoneni cat rehabilitation centre.
True to form and Murphys Law at every turn there were animals which made it hard to get out of the game reserve to get to the Cat Tour.
First we saw Elephant heading down to a mud wallow.
Next was a huge herd of Buffalos as well as Rhino, Zebra and Impala.
We stopped for the Buffalos and saw two males having a tussle.
As we continued we spotted some Rhino and the one Male came to the road so we waited for him to cross in front of us.
When you see so many animals you really appreciate being on a Durban safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
Finally we got to the gate and made our way to the Cat rehab centre which was 25 minutes away.
We began the tour with the African wild cat then the Caracal and we got to see this kitten feeding.
Next was a visit to the Cheetah males and for the first time we didn’t interact with them so we could interact with the 5-6 month old Cheetah cubs in their new enclosure.
This was interesting as for them it was new and they we still very interested in the Zebra and other cats in the other enclosures.
We then visited the Serval and got to see one high up in the tree and interact with some on the ground.
We then made our way back to the gate in Hluhluwe and back up to Hilltop camp seeing 3 of the Big 5 in the process just now cats. This had been a great second day and first day in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
We went straight through for dinner and then bed. What a great day in Africa on our 5 day Durban safari tour.
Day 3 of our Safari tour in Hluhlwue Imfolozi game reserve began early for my client who went on the 5am early morning game drive safari. I stayed behind to do some work and when they returned they had seen a couple new things; one of those being Giraffe.
We then sat down to a buffet breakfast and then took a rest until I got work of Lions near the road in a tree. This could only be the Tree climbing lions of Hluhluwe and I knocked on the clients’ room door to ask if they would like to come and see. They of course agreed.
We began the long 30 minute drive to get to them and hoped they would stay in the tree. On route we spotted a Rhino in the mud wallow which quickly got up and crossed the road in front of us.
We then found some Giraffe and Zebras near the road too and we enjoyed them before rushing off to the Lions.
The Lions were actually really easy to see as they were 5 meters off the road in a Marula tree. They we not going anywhere soon, one was a young male and the other a Lioness.
This is unusual behaviour for lions as they do not have a locking mechanism in the wrist like Leopards do which enables them to come down the tree safely. This pride of tree climbing Lions is a young pride and they have just adapted to climbing well.
We shot off back to Hilltop camp and rested until 4pm when I met my clients again for a 3 hour safari.
Our first major sighting was a huge herd of Elephant on the other side of the Hluhluwe river which were playing and feeding all at the same time. One of these Elephants was lying down and rubbing on the river bank. What amazing scenes on our Durban safari tour.
Next was some Buffalo drinking, watching them for a short while we decided to move on to see if our Hluhluwe Imfolozi safari could bring us any more luck.
We were lucky as we spotted a male Rhino which had just come out of the mud and it was rubbing himself on a tree which had been pushed over by an Elephant. I decided to make a video of this for your benefit!
We made our way down to one of the Picnic sights where I new a male Nyala had got stuck in the mud. When we arrived there were 6 African Wild dogs visible in the river bed sleeping and the carcass was finished! After watching them for a while we saw the puppies all almost adult now wake up and walk around. Tim Brown Tours really can be amazing!
We then made our way around to the other side of the north section with out to much luck. It then began to rain and was getting very dark so we made our way back to the lodge for some dinner.
After dinner it was bed and we would be up early to head out at 6am to see what we could find.
We rose up early and headed out just before 6am to see what animals we could find on our 5 day safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
Our first major sighting was Elephants on the hills but we had seen so many we continued and found a mother Rhino and calf covered in mud.
As we continued our safari tour we found some Giraffe in the road and Zebras which was great, so we enjoyed them for a while before continuing on.
All of a sudden things became very quiet it was like we were chasing ghosts as even the Lions had moved to an area we could not access with out scratching the car. With no success here we found a large herd of Buffalo and it was again the case of well not another Buffalo. This happens after you have seen 100 or more in the 3 days.
We then got lucky with some Baboons on the road and they were grooming each other and one of the males gave us a big yawn which I managed to capture on camera!
We then headed to the main road and got two Buffalo bulls crossing the road in front of us. Wow what an amazing Hluhluwe Imfolozi safari tour.
It was time to get back for some coffee and breakfast at Hilltop camp where we were staying and this was lovely.
I then let my clients catch their breath before we met later in the afternoon for another 3 hours safari.
At 4pm we headed out and tried a new area where we spotted 3 of the Big 5, Zebra and Giraffe in the first hour and a half. Our first good sighting was of these Zebra.
We continued on and found Giraffe and Rhino before finding a great sighting of an Elephant bull near the road. We were hoping he would cross the road but then a car came from the other side and messed it up for us.
I had heard in the morning that the 2 Lions we had seen the day before were still kicking around just another few kilometres down the road. We headed off down their and were luck to spot them. The young male had his head up and this helped us see them otherwise we would have driven past.
We then raced back to get to the lodge in time on route spotting a Puff Adder on the road, Zebra, Elephant and a night Jar.
It had been a great safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi and now we headed through for some dinner. Dinner was a buffet and was great the chocolate cake was too tempting and I had to have a piece or two!
It was time for bed and after a good day in the African bush we deserved a sleep.
We would meet at 7am the next morning for breakfast before heading to St Lucia for the 2 hour boat cruise to see Hippos and Crocodiles.
After meeting for a great breakfast and checking out we made our way to St Lucia South Africa’s first world heritage site. Before we could get there we spotted a Leopard Tortoise in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
We exited out of the famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and took a two hour boat cruise on Lake St Lucia viewing Hippos and crocodiles.
Our boat cruise on St Lucia estuary began at 10am and it was pleasant as it was not to busy and the sun was shining. We had immediate luck with some Hippos and must have seen about 120 Hippos by the end of the boat cruise.
At St Lucia we have Mangrove swamps and aside of the Hippos you can also see other things like the amazing African Fish eagle. We were lucky to see one siting in a tree resting and later in flight.
It was not long until we spotted our first crocodile swimming in the estuary. It is always amazing to see these prehistoric creatures still moving around in our country. We are very lucky to have them in South Africa and if you take a Durban safari tour with Tim Brown Tours you can see them for yourself.
What an amazing cruise on lake St Lucia, its so relaxing to spend time on the boat and its an ideal way to end a Durban overnight tour before heading into the small town of St Lucia for lunch.
We had a lovely meal at Ocean sizzler in St Lucia they always make great food.
At this stage we began our journey back to Durban which took us 2.5 hours, we covered any last questions and before arriving back in the City with some rain about.
This had been a great Durban 5 day tour and we had all enjoyed it.
Durban Safari Tours and KwaZulu-Natal Safari Tours have been areas that few have focused themselves on. It has been a dream to show off Durban and KwaZulu-Natal to the world.